Overview of the Food Systems Summit Process
THE FOOD SYSTEMS SUMMIT
Over the course of 18 months, and in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic, the Secretary-General’s Food Systems Summit has engaged hundreds of thousands of people from around the world in an ambitious effort to accelerate action to transform food systems to realize the vision of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In the context of the Decade of Action, as both a “People’s Summit” and a “Solutions Summit”, the Food Systems Summit has been a catalytic moment for global public mobilization and motivating actionable commitments by various stakeholders.
As part of the Summit process, over 147 UN Member States led National Dialogues. Their outcomes are being consolidated into national pathways, which are clear visions of what governments, together with various stakeholders, expect of food systems by 2030. Member States and a wide range of experts and stakeholders have contributed more than 2200 suggestions for accelerated action. The Action Tracks have clustered this rich input in a systemic way to build communities of practice and foster new partnerships. The Scientific Group consulted broadly and made a robust contribution to the evidence base underpinning much of the Summit’s work. The UN Task Force helped to mobilize over 40 key global institutions to bring knowledge and expertise. Through the Champions Network, Global Food Systems Summit Dialogues, and over 900 Independent Dialogues, people around the world have offered ideas on how to transform food systems.
The process has converged around a reaffirmation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and three core areas: People, Planet and Prosperity:
- People, “Nourishing Everyone for Health and Wellbeing”: Rising hunger and malnutrition, along with the multiple risks and burden of disease, are the outcomes of our present food systems. The impacts of COVID-19 have dramatically increased the numbers of those who are hungry and malnourished. We need to renew our commitment to end poverty, hunger, and malnutrition in all forms and dimensions and to ensure that all human beings can fulfil their potential in dignity, equality, and in a healthy environment.
- Planet, “Delivering a Just Transition for a Sustainable World”: Food systems are profoundly contributing to the degradation of the planet. We must keep our promise to protect the planet, including through sustainable consumption and restorative production, sustainably managing its natural resources, and taking urgent action to make our food systems key in overcoming the climate crisis so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations.
- Prosperity, “Leading an inclusive and equitable recovery from COVID-19”: While representing a tenth of the global economy and supporting the livelihoods of over one billion people, food systems are a focus of inequality. They also hold the potential to be a powerful driver for the recovery. We need to double-down on our determination to ensure that all human beings can enjoy their fundamental human rights and prosperous and fulfilling lives and that economic, social, and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature.
To those engaged in the process, and in light of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the vision of the 2030 Agenda is as relevant as ever. The urgency even greater.
“People’s Summit” & “Solutions Summit”
The UN Food Systems Summit will launch bold new actions, solutions, and strategies to deliver progress on all 17 SDGs, each of which relies to some degree on healthier, more sustainable, and equitable food systems. The Summit will awaken the world to the fact that we all must work together to transform the way the world produces, consumes, and thinks about food. To achieve this, the entire process works towards the following outcomes:
- Significant action and commitment to action, with measurable outcomes and impact that enable achievement of the SDGs by 2030. This will include highlighting existing solutions and celebrating leaders in food systems transformation, as well as calling for new actions worldwide by different actors, including countries, cities, companies, civil society, citizens, and food producers.
- Dramatically elevated public discourses at community, national, regional, and global levels about the urgency to transform food systems, and that call and empower billions of citizens and youth among the broad public to take concrete actions and to support the necessary individual and institutional behavioural shifts.
- Significant Member State and multi-stakeholder action that enable measurable progress on the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Leadership in food systems transformation will be celebrated, and new actions unlocked with the support of committed coalitions of partners and associated finance worldwide.
- A system of follow-up and review actions to ensure that the Summit’s outcomes sustain momentum until 2030. It will celebrate progress, identify and address bottlenecks on the basis of best available data and evidence, and allow for the sharing of experiences and cross-fertilization.
Summit Support Structures and Priority Work Streams
The UN Secretary-General put in place several structures to support the Summit process. These are: the Advisory Committee, the Scientific Group, the UN Task Force, the Champions Network, and the Summit Secretariat, led by the Special Envoy Dr. Agnes Kalibata. These structures are explained in detail in the following section.
Additionally, the work of the Summit support structures takes place through the following priority
- Action Tracks and Levers of Change offer multi-stakeholder constituencies a space to share and learn, with a view to supercharging their progress by fostering new actions and partnerships and by amplifying existing initiatives. The Action Tracks are aligned with the Summit’s objectives and the Levers of Change explore key cross-cutting issues: human rights, innovation, finance, and gender equality and women’s empowerment.
- Food Systems Summit Dialogues (FSSDs) bring together a diversity of stakeholders, including voices that are seldom heard, and provide an important opportunity for participants to debate, collaborate, and take action towards a better future. Dialogues take place at three levels: global, Member State, and independent.
- Advocacy, communications, and mobilization engages key constituencies—including Indigenous Peoples, youth, the private sector, civil society, women, and producers—to raise awareness, shape the narrative, and inspire action on food systems in support of the SDGs. This will include a robust online and media presence, as well as strategic coalitions to drive a global movement toward and beyond the Summit.
- A powerful digital platform provides an accessible, dynamic, and inclusive platform to engage in the Summit process. It will support knowledge management across all work streams, enable outreach, mobilization, and coordination of different stakeholder groups, and track contributions and actions to support the Summit.
THE SUMMIT PROCESS AND PREPARATIONS
“People’s Summit” & “Solutions Summit”
The Summit process unfolds through six periods of work, with the Pre-Summit and Summit as the two major milestones.
1. Mid-2020-January 2021: Engaging Stakeholders & Solidifying Support Structures
The early work of the Summit process included forming the Action Track groups, Champions Network, and UN Task Force. The work of the Scientific Group and Dialogues Programme officially began and a wide range of constituencies were engaged in all work streams.
2. January-March 2021: Identifying Key Ideas
Through both targeted and broad open engagement efforts a ‘first wave’ of more than 1200 ideas and propositions were generated from constituency groups. Propositions were considered against the Summit vision, and ideas were consolidated to identify emerging opportunities, gaps, and where ambition needs to be pressed higher to achieve the SDGs by 2030.
3. April-June 2021: Operationalizing Key Ideas
The rich input generated through all workstreams is consolidated into concrete, evidence-based, and promising propositions with the potential to positively transform food systems when applied at scale. All support structures and workstreams work to meaningfully and transparently engage actors at all levels around these emerging ideas—from local to global and across themes and constituencies. A second wave of idea generation surfaced 956 additional propositions.
4. July 2021: Converging ideas and working towards the Pre-Summit
The Pre-Summit in Rome acted as a convergence point in the 18-month process, bringing together the work of all workstreams and helping to identify three “areas of convergence” to serve as a north star for future work. These three areas reflect a reaffirmation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: People, Planet, and Prosperity. Additionally, as part of this convergence, the outcomes of National Dialogues begin to be consolidated into national pathways, which are clear visions of what governments, together with different stakeholders, expect of food systems by 2030.
5. July-September 2021: Building commitments at the Summit
Following the Pre-Summit, the focus of the process coalesced around two key areas, 1. Supporting Member States in the further articulation of their national pathways and relevant commitments, and 2. Support the building of initiatives and commitments by all stakeholder groups that support accelerated action on the SDGs. At the same time, the Statement of Action by the Secretary-General was further refined based on the outcomes of the Pre-Summit and further consultation with the Advisory Committee and stakeholders.
The UN Food Systems Summit will be held in New York on 23 September during the UN General Assembly High-level week. The Summit will be a moment to hear from Heads of State and Government, regional groups, and leaders on their commitments to take this agenda forward throughout the Decade of Action.
6. October 2021 and beyond: Post-Summit follow up and implementation
The Summit is one moment that will seek to inspire action over the coming decade. The work will continue well beyond the Summit, particularly at national level as pathways are further refined and commitments translate into action. Multistakeholder initiatives launched at the Summit will work to take systemic action at scale. The work of the Action Tracks, Levers of Change, and Scientific Group will transition to the follow-up and review of the Food Systems Summit at global and country-level. This will be supported by the Rome-Based Agencies (FAO, WFP, IFAD) and the broader UN system at global level and Resident Coordinators and UN Country-teams at country-level. There are also several inter-governmental meetings in the months directly after the Summit which will provide an opportunity further deepen the recognition of the role of food systems in these priority agendas. On the way to 2030, other opportunities for sharing experiences and assessing progress will be identified. This is likely to include a stocktaking of progress since the Food Systems Summit in 2023.